This article appeared in the May 06, 2020 edition of the Monitor Daily.

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Why saving economy and human life need not be in conflict

Lee Jin-man/AP
Hanwha Eagles players wearing face masks line up during the start of their regular season baseball game against SK Wyverns in Incheon, South Korea, May 5, 2020. Cheerleaders danced beneath rows of empty seats and umpires wore protective masks as a new baseball season began in South Korea. After a weekslong delay because of the coronavirus pandemic, a hushed atmosphere allowed for sounds like the ball hitting the catcher's mitt and bats smacking the ball for a single or double to echo around the stadium.

Weeks into lockdowns that seem like lifetimes, the question is everywhere: How much longer can we wait? American states are reopening even as diagnosed cases of the coronavirus continue to grow nationwide. Both the president and the governor of Texas have argued, in different ways, that the economy needs to get moving again – even if that comes at a human cost.

Basically, the economy is seen as being in conflict with dramatically cutting cases. But as the world’s experience with the pandemic grows, it’s becoming clearer that, in the best cases, one supports the other. South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Taiwan, Greece, South Africa, and Vietnam have all severely curtailed or virtually eradicated the disease. That’s a broad list – some isolated, some near hot spots. Some run by conservatives, some by liberals. Some rich, some struggling.

But all share a common denominator: quick, decisive, coordinated action based on the best science. In South Korea, that wisdom came from bouts with SARS and MERS. But “they learned from it,” notes an Atlantic report.

This week, South Korea’s success had a conspicuous result: opening day for its baseball league. ESPN is even broadcasting games in the United States. Beyond balls and strikes, the games offer a glimpse at something more: hard-won lessons and the hope they bring.

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This article appeared in the May 06, 2020 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 05/06 edition
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